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On the trail of garage sale bargains: 'I see this as a political act. It’s taking our power back'

On the trail of garage sale bargains: 'I see this as a political act. It’s taking our power back'

22.10.2019

On the trail of garage sale bargains: 'I see this as a political act. It’s taking our power back'

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“It’s a work in progress, a mindset. Even though a lot of my stuff was secondhand in the first place, I still have too much. A garage sale is one of a few different solutions.”

She clearly has an eye for design, but she’s not much of an entrepreneur if these prices are anything to go by. A terracotta plate costs a buck. “It’s not about the money,” she says, pausing to sell a vintage silk scarf with hand-rolled edges and a striped straw hat for $14. “The unwritten rule we have on this street [is] that if there’s something decent in your house that you don’t want any more, you put it out the front for anyone to take.”

It’s an experience you wouldn’t have in a mall, she notes. “I do see this as a political act. It’s taking our power back.”

Logan bought the blouse for $15 at another garage sale on Saturday – “from these two older women, a travel writer and a food writer. They were selling books and clothes they’d picked up on their travels.” Logan has been thrifting since she was a teenager in Brisbane.

Nearby, 15 sellers have set up in Darlinghurst public school. One man smiles valiantly above a stash of DVDs – it looks as though Netflix has destroyed his market – but it’s mostly kids’ toys and approachable fashion here. Mostly.

Her mother, Freida Riggs, is also here, selling clothes and accessories. “Fashion is about self-expression, not about status,” the retired academic says. “Who cares if you bought something new or not? What I care about is the shapes, colours, the stories behind clothes, and I don’t want to dress like a granny.”

Cochrane is a vintage clothes collector. “I love clothes swaps,” she says. “I started doing them I was a student in New Zealand. We’d throw the tarp down on our back lawn in Wellington, everyone would bring their loot, it became a party. I still have them now that I’m 50. It’s awesome, what happens when you take money out of the equation.”

“Why this dress? It fits me. I love the velvet, and I can wear it again. I’ll do my makeup white. I’m going as a goth.”

“Everything I’m wearing is secondhand, actually, except for my shoes. Consumer choices matter. Our choices feed the market, what we want becomes what’s available, so if we change what we want then the market will change. Although ultimately I think government regulation is the thing that will really save us.”

Read more: The Guardian

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